Spy thriller removed from three cinemas
KARACHI: What should have been a laudatory presser on the debut of Pakistan’s spy thriller and its successful run in cinemas, instead turned out to be a press conference on Monday at the Karachi Press Club about plausible motives for removing the movie from three cinemas soon after its screening.
The film Operation 021, produced by Azan Sami and Zeba Bakhtiar and directed by Jami, had been creating a buzz for more than a year building up to its release on Eidul Azha. However, according to the producers, the director and a distributor present at the press conference, merely 25 minutes of its showing in two cinema houses in Karachi and a cinema in Multan, it was pulled out.
For the director Jami, it didn’t make any sense that the film was running in other cinemas and not in these particular three. “Operation 021 is running in 33 cinemas. Why is this so? According to a newspaper, the film was removed from two Karachi cinemas because it is in English and has no subtitles. This is untrue. The film is in English, Urdu, Pashto and Darri. And every word has been subtitled. In fact, on the very first day, the film had good box office takings and along with the other Pakistani released film Na Maloom Afraad, earned record box office takings.”
Ms Bakhtiar felt that the cinema owners were responsible for this fiasco. “My journalist friends told me that the owners had pre-decided to not run the film in their cinema houses.” She also said that if the owners didn’t like Operation 021 then should have asked the distributor to change the movie or they could have reduced the number of shows. “But this was never done.”
‘If Operation 021 was bad then its box office takings should have been poor’
The assistant manager of a distribution office, Mohammad Rizwan, was also upset over what had happened. He lamented the loss of earnings because of the quick removal of the movie. “Eid has always been profitable for us when we screen movies but the cinema owners without informing us pulled out the movie.” He said he and his colleagues were deliberating legal action against the cinema owners. He also vowed to never give a film in future to these cinemas.
Azan insisted that Waar, too, was in English and yet there was no such audience reaction against the movie. However, he refused to be drawn into conspiracy theories when he was queried about what ‘outside forces could have conspired against his debut film’. “I don’t want to speculate. It could be business jealousy, I don’t know. All I know is that I am 20 years old and I want to encourage the Pakistani youth to make all kinds of films that can be shown worldwide. And that people in my country need to be supportive of our efforts.”